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Old August 15th, 2012, 10:00 AM   #1
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To Zoom or not to Zoom?

I know a lot of people are using the Zoom H4 with their DSLRs. Now that you have been using it for a while, would you chose a different recorder now? Or would you stay with the H4?
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Old August 15th, 2012, 10:15 AM   #2
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Lot of factors here:
Your workflow ?
Use Internal microphones ?
Your external microphones ?
How much $ ?
No easy x-y answers
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Old August 15th, 2012, 10:43 AM   #3
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Ok, $250 to $400 price range external mic shotgun and wireless lav.
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Old August 15th, 2012, 12:03 PM   #4
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Many prefer Tascam's DR-40 or 100. All the usual players with XLR inputs in that price range would do the job. Not counting the internal mics, (where the Sony D50 is arguably better) all things being equal, they would sound similar. It's mostly about features you may find appealing for your particular workflow.
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Old August 16th, 2012, 11:49 AM   #5
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

I have a Tascam DR-40. One of the great features on it is that it can record the your audio twice, one at the chosen input level, anda duplicate at -12db. You basically get two sets of WAVs for each recording.

This has already saved my backside when dealing with unexpectedly loud noises. Excellent feature. I'm not sure if the Zooms have this.

I like the DR-40's basicness (is that a word?). I just want a basic recorder, not something packed with features I don't need. I use it either as a basic stereo recorder, or for off-camera recording with an XLR mic plugged in.
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Old August 16th, 2012, 12:01 PM   #6
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Mike, thanks for your input. How do you feel about the on board mic, and the over all recording quality?
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Old August 16th, 2012, 01:43 PM   #7
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Ron,

The on-board mic on the DR-40 is pretty good for general ambience. I captured some good jazz music in a very challenging run-and-gun environment (in a crowded railway station platform, of all places).

I can send you a link to this... I don't think it's pro enough for me to post here!

I like the way it can be adjusted from XY to AB stereo, so you can adjust it for (say) one person/instrument or a whole group. It is a bit susceptible to wind/handling noise though, like many of these recorders. I got a Rycote mounting kit to reduce this problem, it let me mount the recorder on the camera's top coldshoe.

Last edited by Mike Beckett; August 16th, 2012 at 03:06 PM.
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Old August 17th, 2012, 10:10 AM   #8
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

The DR-40 & 100 also has the option to record a mono (single-channel) Wave file, (half the size of stereo) for situations where there's only one mic.
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Old August 18th, 2012, 04:49 PM   #9
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

I had a H4n and sold it to buy a Tascam DR40. The only reason was the line/mic switch. At the point I stopped using it, I had a 3.5 inch long attenuator on the h4n all the time. It was a beast to get right. When I'm recording a band and I just need a simple feed from the board, it was always overloaded even at .5 The Tascam is more reliable for load recordings. The line level is very clean.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 11:36 AM   #10
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Indeed Bill, the H4n's 'line in' is compromised to also support 'Instrument level' while the Tascam can handle peaks to +22dBu w/o clipping the input stage. It would be nice if it had a front-end analog limiter, but that costs.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 12:11 AM   #11
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

I use an H4n. On a shoot, a client asked me to use their DR-40.

There was something about it that I can't remember that drove me nuts. I "think" it was a user feedback issue?

The H4n shows a flashing red circle under the recording button upon initial push, which energizes the record circuits and enables the headphone output. The second push turns it solid red - confirmation that you're recording - and a glance at the counter confirms that you're "rolling" (not in pause) by incrementing. It's a nice bright backlight.

Seems to me that the DR-40 was missing something similar. So I kept having to check and re-check the display to make sure I was in the right mode and rolling?

I could be wrong about this being the thing that drove me nuts since I only used it once - but I have to note that double system recording is difficult enough to get right "every single time" and I appreciated the clear visual feedback of the H4n.

Maybe the DR-40 and the other unit do the same kind of thing. And certainly a user can adapt to any system.Again, I just remember being pretty relieved when I went back to my H4n.

For what it's worth.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 10:08 AM   #12
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Re: To Zoom or not to Zoom?

The DR-40 'recording indicator' is: when the Record is pushed. the Red Flashing (outer) record button illuminates, indicating "Record Ready". When pushed again, recording commences and the button illuminates solid red, the record time counter advances on the LCD screen. Hitting the 'Record' button again, reverts back to "Record Ready (aka, Record Pause). The Stop button exits the recording mode and saves the file. The right-hand 'arrow' button can start a new file on-the-fly. IMO, this set-up is intuitive, and typical of most 'pro' recorders, including professional analog machines from yesteryear.
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